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on 24 September 2014
I hope you're reading this Sally because I want so much to give you a big hug and a huge thankyou. Of all the books on adoptive parenting and attachment I have read, not to mention all the patronising and pointless training courses I have yawned and fake smiled my way through... (and there have been a lot), your book has been by far the most help of all of them. Mostly, just because it's so nice to understand that someone else has had a family life exactly like ours and you don't mince around with saying how you are really feeling.

We have adopted three boys, the two oldest are birth siblings who were removed from the birth family due to neglect. As foster carers we supported them through a previous adoption which failed and then when they came back to us, we decided to adopt them. Whilst they were in their previous adoptive placement, we fostered a prem baby who we also later adopted. Every day is beyond challenging and every day I wonder how I can survive until the next day but somehow I do and you book has helped me with that. Thank you.

If you are reading this but you are not Sally and you are an adoptive parent, or especially, if you're a prospective adoptive parent doing a home study or waiting for your children, a social worker or other proffesional, you need to buy this book and read it now! You should come away with a clear understanding of the challenges that adoptive parents and their children face. This book tells it exactly as it really is.

If you do read this book and afterwards you are still one of those people who says things like....
"He should be fine by now"
"He just needs some good old fashioned discipline"
"Where is his real Mother, didn't she want him?"
"Just love the children more"
Then please form an orderly queue and wait in line until it is your turn to be slapped. You can give your copy of the book to someone who will benefit from it.
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on 28 July 2013
In this memoir, Sally Donovan shares her family with us. Having explained why she and her husband chose to become adopters, she relates in detail how that decision changed their lives: a young, traumatised brother and sister became their son and daughter, bringing both joy and ongoing challenges to the couple.

This book doesn't gloss over the recurring trauma that children who've been neglected and abused bring with them; nor does it skirt around the fact that post-adoption support is often lacking and that the schools system can be ignorant and dismissive of adopted children's needs. Sally and Rob's feelings of exhaustion and sometimes loneliness are laid bare.

Ultimately, though, No Matter What is about love, and the dedication of a resourceful mother in fighting for her children and learning how to redress the damage of their early experiences. Donovan argues persuasively that children who've been starved of care as babies can't just be expected to slot into normal family life. A more radical, elemental form of parenting is needed.

Donovan writes well, concisely, honestly and often with humour. As the (albeit non-adoptive) parent of a child with special needs, I found her descriptions of feeling adrift from the 'normal' mums in her community particularly resonant.

I would recommend this book to anyone keen to gain an insight into adoption or just to enjoy Donovan's eloquent writing.
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on 5 December 2013
We are second time adopters and were recommended this book by our social worker who said all her team are reading it. She said they couldn't believe how it was 'from the other side' - I think it was a very helpful insight for them. I started reading Sally's blog before I bought it so knew a little of what to expect but the book has been an incredible read and surpassed all expectations. The adoption process is so uniquely isolating and friends and family can be so quite to reassure you that 'everyone feels like that' / 'all new mums are scared' / 'all kids do that' that it actually adds to the feeling of isolation. I read the book in about two days, literally devouring it (and ignoring my family) in order to read it to the end. I also folded down at least 20 pages to refer back to at a later date. SO much of the experience was familiar it was hugely cathartic to read. All of adoption is bittersweet, every gain has an equal loss. Even a getting that prized 'perfect match' still reminds you of the fact that this is a synthetic form of becoming a parent at least at the start. There are so many people involved. It's such a leap of faith. So uniquely weird. I adored the first parts of the book, pre-match. Those local authority meeting rooms are instantly recognisable. I loved the way that a social worker initially orders their drink becomes an indicator of how they will be - black, no sugar = no nonsense efficiency. Two sugars/white oh and a biscuit please = incompetent / dithery / demanding. I could rave about this book at length. It's so well written, powerful, incredibly emotional but with a great pace. I wondered whether those starting the adoption process will get as much from it and I think they will. It's not a negative book and it's good to challenge the polite assumptions / professional advice that often is totally at odd with what we can see our children need. But I hope any anger in the book does bring about change. There is not enough support for parents adopting children who have attachment issues / who have suffered neglect. It's so reckless and in fact cruel to think that the adoption 'training' is sufficient, throw them together and it's happily ever after. It can be happy ever after but the children being placed is often just the start of a very long journey to becoming a family, it's not the end point. Overall though, you are just rooting for this family and full of admiration for the determination from both parents and children to overcome such difficult past and flourish in the future. And however their family started, 'Sally' and 'Rob' are the absolute epitome of parents. I wish them every joy and hope they inspire others to follow a similar path. Hopefully with more support and understanding as a result of this brilliant book.
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on 17 August 2013
As an adoptive parent myself I found this book honest and brave in its account of family life. Adoption begins with a loss and its important for people to know that parenting traumatised children takes courage and humour which Sally and Rob have in bucketfuls. I would highly recommend this to any parent involved in adoption but also to those working to support adopted children in social care, health care and education. I hope Sally's excellently written book will help others and highlight the need for post adoption support. Highly recommended.
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on 28 July 2013
A wonderfully written story. I bought this book as soon as it was published and read it in just a few days. Hilarious in parts, it is also shocking and sad in others. For me this book has given real insight into the world of modern adopting that many of us know little about, whilst having plenty of familiar ups and downs of life that I could identify with too. I don't have adopted children, but I have loved reading this.
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on 28 September 2013
I read this book after it was strongly recommended by a friend who had recently adopted two children. I read it in two straight sittings on consecutive afternoons - it is gripping to the point where it was hard to put down and turn attention to anything else.

It is a well written, honest account of a couple's journey towards and beyond the adoption of their two young children, who have suffered abuse and neglect. It is sad and moved me to tears. It is funny and made me laugh out loud. It paints a clear picture of the struggles faced by the family. This includes, a times, a shocking lack of understanding, compassion and support. However, it is overwhelmingly positive about adoption. It was actually a joy to read. I felt privileged that the author, Sally, chose to share her family's everyday experiences. In doing so, she has given genuine insight to other people.

I wish I had read this book while my friends were going through the adoption process, as I feel it would have helped me to understand more and be a better friend. I can't recommend it highly enough for anyone who is thinking about adopting or going through the process, and their family and friends.

I wish Sally and her family all the very best.
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on 15 September 2013
Mrs Donovan writes about her adopted children, and how their early experiences affect them, their deep sense of shame, and how that affects the family. She also talks about her own reactions, how she learned to be a better parent.

I found I could not put it down, I finished it at 4am and I am hoping for the sequel... but looking at the dates, they are still living the sequel, no chance yet.

On one level, it is about how the early experiences of a baby will always affect them. On another level, it speaks to all parents, as many children carry a deep sense of shame, and many children will act in similar (though less extreme), way.

It also should be required reading for teachers in training, as the teaching styles that don't work for adopted children also fail other "problem" children, and blaming the child, rather than changing the approach, is certainly not something only found in the one school.

A brilliant book for any parent, and a very interesting read for anyone interested in children.
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on 27 September 2013
I have read a lot of books about adoption - and I mean a lot!! From parenting books, personal accounts and journeys, in depth theory text books, behaviour guides... you name it and i've probably read it. So, when I purchased this book I expected a good read about someone else's adoption story. It certainly gave me that, but a lot more besides. This book follows the Dovonan family on their journey of becoming a family and then dealing with the aftermath of early trauma. It is not all happy and smiles, but neither is it negative and depressing - it is honest! Anyone who is an adoptive parent will connect with the feelings and experiences shared in this book. The highs, the lows and the inbetween.
I would recommend this book to all prospective adopters, adoptive parents, foster carers, social workers and basically anyone who has any sort of interest in adoption.
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on 17 August 2013
What an amazing book! I have read many books on adoption as an adopter myself but this one I found especially moving, true to life, hilarious, impactful and comforting. I think this is a must read for all those who have adopted already but also those considering adoption. There are also many American books about adoption but this is particularly relevant to adoption in the UK. I found myself nodding furiously, welling up at points and reading sections to anyone around who would listen. I love Sally Donovan's blogs and this is such a great extension of those blogs. Well done Sally - I look forward to reading more from you in the future.
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on 12 December 2014
A must read for prospective adopters families to help them understand what their sons,daughters or sybllingd are going through on a daily basis with their adopted family
Written in an easy to read format, offering encouragement to other adopters that they are not alone.
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